Shock in Australia after soldiers murder Afghan civilians

Commission of inquiry finds elite soldiers committed war crimes against civilians outside of the context of battle.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Justice
Justice
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Australia is in shock after a four-year investigation revealed that a group of 19 elite special forces soldiers murdered at least 39 civilians in Afghanistan over their years of service.

The commission of inquiry, headed by Maj Gen Justice Paul Brereton, who also serves as a military judge, has interviewed more than 400 eyewitnesses who have witnessed civilian murders in recent years, reviewed more than 20,000 documents and viewed 25,000 photos, and found that the soldiers should be investigated for the killing of "prisoners, farmers or civilians" from 2009-2013.

One of the incidents, the details of which were not made public in order to protect the identities of the soldiers involved, was dubbed by the Commission of Inquiry "one of the most shameful chapters in the history of the Australian military".

The Commander-in-Chief of the Australian Defense Forces Angus Campbell said at a press conference that reliable information was found establishing 23 incidents of illegal killing of 39 people by 25 Australian special forces special forces, mainly from the Special Air Service Battalion. "These findings constitute the most serious violations of military conduct and professional values. Illegal killing of civilians and prisoners is never conceivable."

The investigation revealed evidence that junior soldiers had been instructed to "carry out their first killing of prisoners" when the Australian soldiers then placed weapons near the bodies of Afghans in order to incriminate them in the act after their deaths.

Other testimonies told of torture campaigns and severe abuse of innocent civilians that led to their deaths.

The Commission of Inquiry recommended that the Australian Police open a criminal investigation against 19 members of the elite units of the Australian Army suspected of taking part in war crimes, with some still serving in the Australian Army while others have already been discharged from service.

The 531-page report further states that 23 incidents could be classified as a "war crime of the murder of innocent people" if the soldiers' guilt was indeed proven, while two other incidents were classified as a "war crime of cruel treatment".

A special investigator appointed last week will now decide whether to open a criminal investigation against the soldiers involved in these incidents, and if it does turn out that they committed the crimes, an indictment will be filed against them for war crimes.

Campbell said none of the incidents could be described as a situation which arose during the heat of battle. "None were alleged to have occurred in circumstances in which the intent of the perpetrator was unclear, confused or mistaken."



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